EDITH REGALADO | Philippine Star
President Duterte has defended government forces who were allegedly involved in looting during the five-month fighting in Marawi.
Duterte said the reported looting and human rights violations committed by soldiers during the Marawi siege would be investigated.
“These things will be looked into, but do not condemn the government right away,” the President said in a press briefing here on Saturday night.
He said he had not received reports of abuses committed by the soldiers since martial law was declared in Mindanao in May.
The President does not believe the soldiers looted the homes of the Marawi residents.
“I do not believe that the soldiers were there to steal the properties of the residents. I was there. They were billeted in houses and they were using the amenities of that houses,” he said.
“The soldiers could be noticed easily if they took with them items such as refrigerators and electric fans. Those are large appliances that you cannot hide. How can you steal those things?” he added.
Duterte admitted there were houses in Marawi that were used as hospitals by the military to treat wounded soldiers.
“That’s correct because I went there several times. I visited the homes used as hospitals during emergencies,” the President said.
Earlier, the military confirmed that an officer and five enlisted personnel were being investigated for alleged looting.
Officials admitted receiving complaints from civilians about soldiers stealing from homes in Marawi.
But the soldiers claimed that some houses were in disarray when they arrived in the city.